If You Can’t Control The Weather
Last week was a pretty busy week for me. I remember I was sitting at my desk in the afternoon hours and I looked outside my window at the beautiful rays of sunshine, wishing I could be outside at the park, by the pool, or napping at the beach. But, there was too much to be done that day, so I didn’t make it outside. However, I decided that I was going to go to the beach over the weekend. I made plans with a few friends to soak up the sun and I was so excited!
When I woke up the morning of my beach day, I looked out my window, and saw that the “May Gray” clouds had rolled in. I decided to cancel my beach day and went back to sleep. If I’m being totally honest right now (yes I know this is going to sound dramatic), this was probably one of the most disappointing days I’ve had in quite a while. Since then, as I greeted guests at my job or talked about the weather with friends, I found myself complaining about the gray skies and cool temperature.
Right now, it’s May 24th, and I am sitting inside a Starbucks writing this blog. Before I sat down I was thinking to myself “I love living in California because of the amazing weather and constant sunshine, so I do not appreciate these clouds at all.” Really – I am sitting in Starbucks, feeling sorry for myself because the sun isn’t shining, even though it’s actually a beautiful day outside and the temperature feels really refreshing. This got me thinking about my attitude and that it definitely needed a little adjusting.
So, what did I do? As a scientist, my first instinct was to go online to research what actually causes May Gray and June Gloom (I know, a little nerdy), and what I found was fascinating! Did you know that this phenomenon is very specific to the Pacific West Coast, and most notably seen in southern California? I sure didn’t, but how cool is that?
Here is the science of what actually happens: as the months of May and June approach, the temperature and atmospheric pressure begin to rise, while the ocean waters remain fairly cold. The combination of high pressure and cold water create what is called a “temperature inversion” which means that the cold air stays closer to the ground, while the air temperature increases with altitude. This is a complete inversion of what is typically found in nature! Technically this happens all over the west coast, but because of southern California’s constant sunshine, it is most heavily observed here.
As I was reading about these gloomy months, I found that I was getting upset with myself. For the past week, I was in a pretty awful mood because of something as silly as the temperature, when in reality, I live in such an incredible climate phenomenon that isn’t seen in other parts of the world. I was so fixated on what I wanted that I didn’t take time to appreciate what was actually happening around me.
Our attitudes are such a fascinating thing. Waking up in the morning and telling ourselves “Ugh, I don’t want to get up” versus “I am so excited to have an amazing day” can have profoundly different impacts on how we feel throughout our entire day! I know it might sound silly, but even complaining about something as small as the sun shining or not can have a significant effect on your brain chemistry. Studies show that our brains actually have a “negativity bias” which means that they react more strongly to negative input than positive input. So when we complain, our attitudes are being heavily influenced by this negative habit. When we complain often, this can change our happiness in the long run. We are also easily influenced by the emotions and attitudes of the people around us. Research has shown that we can “catch” the happiness of others, but also people’s negative emotions. To combat all of these effects, we have to experience and produce more frequent, small positive acts and experiences in our lives. I know that I want to start making a conscious effort to focus on the positive aspects of my own life. So, here are my top 3 tips to help (all backed by scientific research, of course):
- Pump up the jam: Studies have found that listening to music can actually alter your mood in a matter of two weeks. But not just any music, the type of music matters. Listening to upbeat songs with positive lyrics can put you in a happier mood, while listening to slower, sadder tunes can have the opposite effect. My favorite mood boost song right now is “Wild Heart” by the Bleachers. Give it a listen!
- Think like a superhero: One of my favorite research studies that has ever been conducted was on the impact that “power posing” can have on individuals. This study found that “power posing” or as Amelia Shepherd would call it, “superhero posing” can actually help to boost your performance in high stress environments. Instead of thinking about how stressed you are, think about how your favorite superhero would tackle that challenge, and stand like them for two minutes. Before I go into an interview or meeting, I stand like Green Lantern and chant their mantra “in brightest day, in blackest night…”
- Get your endorphins going: In the famous words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” Elle Woods was really onto something, she just didn’t know the whole story! Research has shown that exercise can increase endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and even work to help normalize sleep patterns, which will all help to increase your mood! My exercise of choice is running or dancing, but find something that you love that will increase your heart rate!
One of my best friends from high school told me years ago that “every day has the potential to be a great day” and I wholeheartedly believe that. Next time you find yourself down about something inconsequential, try one of these three tips to boost your mood and change your attitude. Positivity can go a long way for your mental and physical health!
As leaders, people are always watching us, it’s the fishbowl effect! If we go into every work day, meeting or event with the attitude of “when will this be over,” the people around you will also have that same mindset. In order to change the attitude of your coworkers, employees, and friends, it all starts with your own attitude! Next time you find yourself complaining about something you have to do, use one of my tips above to help you and the rest of your team be a little more positive.
*Meet the Author*
Gino Calavitta is an avid Netflix watcher who enjoys practicing American Sign Language and going to concerts!